Wednesday, January 30, 2013

C.S. Lewis On the Need For the Christian Intellect

Recently I picked up Lewis' book The Weight of Glory, a collection of lectures that he delivered in the 40's to students. I find it surprising that little has seemed to changed since the words entered print. In an essay entitled "Learning In War-Time" he addresses the mentality of certain people to think learning a frivolity during times of crisis, such as those of World War II; however, there seems to be a similar way of thinking in certain sectors of Christianity today, whether we are in a time of crisis or not. I felt that it would be apropos to quote him at length, as it pertains to my reasons for writing this blog:

If all the world were Christian, it might not matter if all the world were uneducated. But, as it is, a cultural life will exist outside the Church whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple now--not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground--would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defence but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered. The cool intellect must work not only against cool intellect on the other side, but against the muddy heathen mysticisms which deny intellect altogether. Most of all, perhaps, we need intimate knowledge of the past. Not that the past has any magic about it, but because we cannot study the future, and yet need something to set against the present, to remind us that the basic assumptions have been quite different in different periods and that much which seems certain to the uneducated is merely temporary fashion.

Lewis indicates two fields of learning for the Christian intellect: philosophy and history (if I am reading him correctly). Where would you say the greatest need is today? What elements of the Christian intellect deserve more attention within the Church and without? Please leave a comment and tell us what you think.

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